Does Exercise Reduce Cardiac Risk?

Updated 2/22/2023

It is loving your heart month, and heart health awareness.  Today, we will discuss exercise, and how it can reduce your risk for Cardiac disease, but also as it relates to people with CKD.  Remember, everyone is different, and for some people exercise may not reduce the risk.  Always ask your doctor before beginning an exercise routine, especially if you plan on doing more than a basic walking routine.  Vigorous exercise can be dangerous for some people, and for people with CKD, studies show that intense exercise may increase Creatinine levels, at least for short periods of time. If you have CKD, or Heart Disease already, be sure to talk to your doctor as to what exercises are best for you. Generally, most health care practitioners will probably be OK with walking.

I did a post on walking, a couple weeks ago.  You can find it in the archives.  Most anyone can walk, and unless your doctor tells you no exercise, then chances are good you can walk too.  Me, I have CKD stage 3, and I try to aim for 50-60% intensity of my Maximum Heart Rate.  To find your MHR you subtract your age from 220, then figure out 50% of that.  So, for my age, my MHR would be 85 beats a minute, at 50% intensity.    I try to stay in that range. This is very light exercise and it is hard to stay in that range if your goal is to increase your fitness level.

Of course, vigorous exercise is going to have a higher risk reduction.  According to medical websites, up to 25% risk reduction if you exercise vigorously, of cardiac disease risk.  For me, who works out moderately, it is only a 10% risk reduction of reduction to cardiac risk.  But, for me, I can’t risk my one good kidney for an organ that right now is functioning fine.  Now that may change in the future.  Vigorous exercise would be running, jogging, bike riding, aerobics, etc.  Moderate exercise would be walking, yard work, or golfing.  Low-intensity aerobics can also fit under moderate exercise.  I recommend anyone starting out, do a walking program first.  This will increase your strength, balance, and circulation, preparing you for a higher endurance program.

Using weights also adds to the cardiac risk reduction.  However, again if you have CKD this can raise your Creatinine levels.  So, kidney websites recommend doing Pilates, or Yoga for toning, instead of weight lifting.  I have not started either of those yet, but I intend to.

Even 15 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity will benefit your heart.  The goal is to eventually build up to 60 minutes, at least 5 days a week.  But, if you can only do 5 or 10 minutes a couple days a week, then start there.  It is important to start somewhere.  Any activity is better than no activity at all.  Your heart is a muscle, and like any muscle, it will take time, and work to make it stronger.

Know to watch for warning signals, especially if you have CKD or an already underlying cardiac disease.  You do want to have difficulty carrying on a full conversation, but you don’t want to be breathing so hard that you are gasping for air, or can’t speak at all.  That is a sign that you are working too hard, and you need to stop and rest.  Learn to check your heart rate, before, during, and after you exercise.  Remember you want to stay within the MHR, as stated above.  The older you are the lower your MHR will be, so it is imperative you always speak to your doctor before starting an exercise program, and that you learn to properly monitor your heart rate and breathing during exercise.   Walking around your house is not an exercise program.  We all walk.  Fitness walking is an exercise program.  You will expect to have some muscle pain, after exercising, especially if you are sedentary.  But, chest pain, pain in the jaw, or neck, or any intense pain anywhere, can be indicative of an issue and you should stop and rest right away.  Also, make sure you stay hydrated.  Drink before, during, and after.  Don’t exercise in intense heat.  The goal is not to be a super athlete but to decrease your risk of cardiac disease.

Watch the short video below that talks about reducing cardiac risk, and reducing the risk of cognitive decline with exercise as simple as walking.

My disclaimer is easy to remember. Nothing on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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Who Likes Squats?

Updated 2/3/2023 I am no longer working the 12-hour shifts mentioned in this post. However, I am working more days of the week so the concept is the same.

I would say most people do not like to do squats, but some people probably do. The other day I was reading an article on bone health and preventing Osteoporosis. With CKD you know how important bone and muscle health is. Squats were considered one of the best weight-bearing exercises you could do for bone health. I mean think about it, you are lifting your own weight from a seated to a standing position and then back to seated. The article stated that women in certain cultures who regularly sit on the floor have the best bone density in that study. This is because they have to get up and then down to the floor several times a day. I mean think of it this way, say you have an office job but you get up from your chair at least every hour and take 250 steps. In an 8-hour work-day, that means you would have done at least 8 squats as long as your chair is not high. Even if you have an active job, doing squats will improve your bone density.

Watch the video to learn how to properly do a squat. Start low and build up to more repetitions. Your buns and hamstrings probably will complain, especially at first, but your bones will thank you.

Now for a quick update on the pantry food challenge.

I looked up rolled oats that I used in my blueberry crisp and 1/2 of a cup contains 17 grams of protein, 66 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fiber, 523 mg of Phosphorus, 2 mg of Sodium, and 429 mg of Potassium. This makes oats a concerning food item for CKD. The recipe called for 3/4 of a cup of oats. Be sure and eat the blueberry crisp in moderation only. The homemade sloppy joe sauce was amazing! Compared to Manwich sloppy joe sauce in a can, it has much better nutrition for CKD, namely in sodium content and it contains HFCS. The frozen corn per 1/2 cup has 3 grams of protein, 3 mg of sodium, 213 mg of potassium, and 70 mg of phosphorus. Be sure and be mindful of portion sizes with the corn as well.

Today is an all-leftover dinner day. So, anything I have already cooked will be finished up today.

This weekend is the hardest for me, any weekend- because I work 12-hour shifts. On the first day I can manage a healthy meal, the second day I am too tired and with little sleep not much time to get something together. I may go ahead and prep a bunch of stuff today so I can eat healthy both days. Below are some pantry items I have thrown into my lunch bag in case I don’t get prepped for Sunday. We can eat at work for free, but I find the food generally upsets my stomach so I try not to. I have shown just the item and the labels.

The first item is for Poptarts. The list of ingredients is immense, but I forgot to take a picture. Then a bag of Cheez Its, Quest protein bar, a tun pouch, and Canola mayo I bought that Canola mayo through Misfits Market and I have not tried it yet. I think I will make tuna, and chicken salad so I have something for both days. The only real difference is that it has more Omega 3 than other mayos do and less saturated fat. The Quest protein bars I need to eat up. According to one website, one bar contains 10% of the RDA for phosphorus. I bought them and didn’t love them, but I refuse to waste them. They are so expensive. I have to eat three meals at work because I work 12- hour shifts. I will probably have my last serving of blueberry crisp before I leave for breakfast. I will also stick in a banana, and maybe some clementines. These are high in potassium so they will not work for everyone. That will avoid a fattening greasy breakfast there. If you work with CKD you know how hard it can be to stick to a diet and to get enough fluids. Fluids are an even bigger concern for me than food. As far as pantry meats go, you really can’t beat tuna. Try to buy the brand with the best ingredient list. I have tried organic tuna and I do not like it at all.

Have an awesome weekend and let me know how you plan for workdays with CKD.

My disclaimer is simple. Nothing on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes.

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How Many Steps Per Day To Improve Quality Of Life With CKD?

Updated 1/25/2023. I continue to work on changing all of my old posts to reflect the new name of this blog.

If you have been following along this week, then you know I have been talking about exercise and CKD. In the archives of this blog, you will find lots of walking videos, that are low-impact aerobics. Walking is my main form of exercise, whether on the treadmill, outdoors, or using some of my favorite walking videos, I walk a lot. I also walk a lot at work. But, after I was first diagnosed it was so hard to work. I was exhausted all the time, with feet, back, and leg cramps. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to work. I worked part-time and felt like it was daunting. I still work part-time but have started to pick up the number of days of the week that I work. I don’t see myself working 5 days ever, not because of CKD, just because it seems like no life at all to only have two days a week off. Now that my second child is grown I have no real reason to need to be at home so much. The more I move around the better I feel, and the better I feel the more I can accomplish. This would most likely be true for you too. I am stronger, fitter, more active, and happier. But, that is just me, one person. What do other people with CKD say on this topic?

Well, good thing you asked because that is the topic today. This study is pretty new, and it used a survey format to ask people with CKD how they felt their life was going with certain amounts of exercise. The target number of steps was at least 7,000 per day up to 12,000 per day. The average age of the participants was 40, pretty young considering most CKD studies are done on older populations, with about half being men and half women. You can read the study here, but the study showed that the more active these people with CKD were the better they felt their quality of life was. The survey that was used is from the CDC and you can see the survey questions here. Walking is low impact, easy to do, and free with no equipment needed other than a device for assistance if you need it. You can even start by sitting in a chair and marching or holding onto your walker. You will only get stronger. Be patient and take your time. I have been fitness walking for years and 12,000 steps per day are hard to achieve. It is a lot of steps. You can not expect to do it in one day, or even one year, possibly, depending on where you are at. It is a goal, and goals take time. I give myself one full day of rest where I walk way less than 7,000 steps. I need that day.

I still have days where I feel yucky, but those days are mostly related to poor diet choices, and or not staying hydrated enough. Hydration is a huge stickler for me in what positions I am willing to take as a nurse. Having drinks at work can be frowned upon, but I am not in the need to care. If I get dehydrated I feel like crap. Working for me is almost like a workout, and I hydrate before I even get there, just in case I may not have time to grab a few guzzles of a drink. Since I drive 30 minutes to work, I have adequate time to down at least 8 ounces of fluids before I get there. I try to get 16 ounces in.

Invest in a step counter. Now, with that being said you don’t need a fancy one. I used to have a Fitbit and I loved it. But, it died, and I just never replaced it. Instead, I put a free step counter on my smartphone and I take the phone everywhere. There is workout apparel that can accommodate holding a phone so it can count your steps, or just put it in your pocket or even your bra.

If you need someone to walk with you to motivate you, adopt a dog. There are so many dogs in need in the world, or just foster it. The chances are good the dog will have to go to the bathroom. If you are new to dog ownership, or older, choose a manageable breed. Basic dog training for bigger dogs is recommended if you are new to walking. You don’t need your dog dragging you around.

Always talk about exercise with your doctor, especially if you are new to exercise. Take your time. If you can only do 1,000 steps on your first day, that is fine. Do 1,001 the next day. Add a couple of steps each day.

Tomorrow, or Friday, I will share some more of my favorite indoor walking videos that you can try.

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Sweating On Sunday: Low Impact Walking Videos For CKD!

If you search under my category Sweating on Sunday, you will find other fun videos that I have shared. Today, I am adding a few more from two of my favorite Youtube channels that offer low-impact walking videos that are great for people with CKD, like me. Remember, to always ask your doctor before you begin working out. In general, walking is safe for everyone.

Try setting a step goal for the month of November. I have gradually added to my hourly step requirements. Initially, I began with 250 steps every hour. This gets me up and moving every single hour. For November I am setting the goal of 7 minutes on my treadmill, every hour, at the speed of 2.4 miles per hour. This gives me over 700 steps and almost a 1/3 of a mile walked. These hourly step goals are on top of whatever 30 min exercise I decided to do on any given day. When I work, I do not worry about this, because sitting still is not really part of a nurse’s life. I also don’t count the days that I am not home most of the day, but rather pick up for the hours that I am at home. You do not need a treadmill to do this. I also take the dog out and do laps around the backyard while playing ball with him, until I reached the required steps, or minutes.

Make your goal small so you don’t give up if you can’t meet it, then build from there monthly, or whatever timeframe works for you. Whatever you do, do not start with HIIT, or high-intensity exercises. These are not beginner workouts.

There are 5 videos below. One of them is a 4 mile walk and great goal to have.

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Let’s Focus On Exercise And CKD!

This will be the last post in this series, but I am sure I will discuss exercise forever. This is another webinar I found on the topic and I encourage you to take an hour out of your day and watch it. I like this one even better than the first one I shared earlier this week. I think this one is laid out a little better and the information is a little better.

Pay particular attention to the definitions of sedentary, physically active, exercise, and physical fitness. I think the three latter terms are often mingled together and they mean very different things. Also, pay attention to the details that might make exercise unsafe for people with CKD.

Exercise and Kidney Function!

I have already discussed the importance of exercise on quality of life, activities of daily living, bone health, muscle health, etc. But, what about kidney function? That is what everyone really wants to improve kidney function. Right? There have not been a lot of Randomized Control Trials, the good ones, for people with kidney disease, and the ones that have been done focus mainly on people on hemodialysis. But, hopefully, there will be more studies done. I am sharing one study, and you can read it here, that shows how important exercise is for people with kidney disease. It can even improve kidney function. If you don’t enjoy reading medical articles, then just read the conclusion. It is really the most important part. The big issue seems to be that doctors don’t, or can’t agree on how to prescribe exercise to their patients, or feel they will be non-compliant. I say just start moving! Do something, it is better than nothing. Baby steps will lead to bigger and better steps. It will improve your strength, balance, heart, blood pressure, weight, and Diabetes, and now evidence is showing kidney function. That doesn’t even count what exercise can do for your mental health.

I have done a lot of posts on the topic of Kidney Disease. It is near and dear to my heart because I have CKD. You can find all of my older posts in the sidebar under the sections. Don’t forget to always ask your doctor before you begin exercising.

Today, I did some meal prep. I will talk more about that next week. The question is, do I think spending one whole day doing meal prep is a good way to spend a day off? I know a lot of people make videos doing this, and spend lots of time on it. Come back next week to see what I think.

Don’t forget to try some of the flexibility exercises I shared yesterday. Next week will be balance exercises.

Do you exercise routinely? Are you on dialysis? Do you have CKD? How has exercise improved your quality of life? Leave me some comments, and I will read them all. I do not approve spam, so please only leave comments related to the topic, or they never get seen.

I have not decided yet what I will write about exercise and CKD tomorrow. I guess you will just have to wait and see, like me, lol.

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Let’s Talk About Exercise and CKD: Flexibility

If you did not read yesterday’s introduction to this topic be sure and go back to it, plus watch the video. If you are new here, my name is Melissa, and I have CKD. In 2016, on Christmas Day, my left kidney failed. It has been a long journey back to health and wellness, and I feel stronger and healthier today than I did in years. I am 53 years young and my eGFR is 58 at my last check last week. I have gone to 61, but now hover right around 59. I am still super pleased with that, though it remains a goal for my kidneys to get to stage 2 and consistently stay there. Diet and exercise are the two things that I truly believe helped me to heal my kidneys.

Now, as I write all that, please do not believe that I can run a marathon or something, I can not. Having CKD still means that I have limitations, plus my age is a consideration as well. I am a nurse by trade, and I still do floor nursing 3 days a week. This is very hard on the body when you are young, let alone in your fifties with CKD. However, I also know that having a desk job would be very detrimental to my movement goals and I am just not ready for that.

If you read yesterday, then you know two of my weakest areas are flexibility and balance. Now, I do have both of those to some degree because I walk every single day. I have a general goal of 8,000 steps per day. That is the number I try to make sure I reach every single day. 10,000 steps is my middle goal, and 12,500 is my ultimate goal. When I work I easily reach the middle goal, and a lot of times the ultimate goal. So, I obviously have to be flexible to some degree to be able to walk that many steps in a day and even in an 8-hour shift. But, I am not purposely making sure my flexibility is a focus and a goal. Some days my hamstrings are killing me after working all day, as well as my feet. I am prone to Charlie Horse’s too, and I am sure all of these things are because I do not do active stretching.

I am sharing an article, here, on the importance of flexibility for everyone. But, from the perspective of CKD, flexibility is super important for maintaining your daily life activities, and for keeping muscles toned and strong. Being able to have a good quality of life should be a major goal for anyone with Kidney Disease.

Remember to always start slow and only do what your body will allow you to do. No pain no gain is a myth and should not be applied to anyone with CKD. With that said, you do have to continually challenge your muscles, so small increments of increase are important, including not doing the same exercises forever even if you really like them. Always check with your doctor first to be sure they want you to exercise. Rest when you need to, and stop if you have pain. If you can do these activities mindfully it is even better.

So, for this week, I set a goal, and I will definitely try to do it every week going forward, to do at least 3 days of dedicated flexibility work. It will probably be on the days that I work. Below are some videos that I will be using because I like them. Choose the level that is good for you. If none of these fit your needs there are a million more to choose from. These are active warmups that focus on flexibility, not static exercises. I don’t care for those, but they can play a role.

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Get Your Sweat On #1!

Happy Sweating on Sunday! I have not done a Sunday exercise post in a very long time. As a matter of fact, I am still not back into the habit of doing regular posts at all. That is why I am setting a goal for myself to do at least 6 blog posts this week on the topic of exercise and CKD. There is a lot of research and studies that have been done that show the importance of exercise and Kidney Disease. This week I am going to focus on that topic. I personally feel like exercise has played a huge role in my getting to stage 2 and then continuing to hover just under stage 2. When I was first diagnosed I was close to stage 4 if not stage 4, but I wasn’t diagnosed until I was already improving and at the low end of stage 3.

Today, to start off I just want to share the video below. It is about an hour long, and not the most exciting video you will ever watch, but it has a ton of information. There are a few things I want you to pay particular attention to and they are: 1. She does not have CKD I don’t believe, so when she talks from her own personal experience it is not the same as a person with CKD. 2. Listen to what she says about blood pressure and exercise. 3. I want to stress the part about no pain no gain. Listen to what she says, it is important. 4. Last but not least, hydration.

Exercise is important, and the one area, out of the 4 she discusses that I definitely am lacking in is flexibility. I am very bad about cooling down properly, and I also don’t do regular flexibility exercises. Balance is the other one. So, this week I am setting a goal for myself to do at least three days of flexibility exercises on the days that I work. I work three to four days a week, and I am not going to do aerobics on those days as I already walk an average of 10,000 steps at work. So, they are perfect days to do flexibility instead. Next week, I will focus on balance.

Anyway, set a small goal for yourself this week to start some kind of gentle exercise, especially if you do not, or have not exercised in a long time. Always ask your doctor first. There may actually be reasons, as mentioned in the video, that your doctor may not want you to exercise. However, most people can walk, and it is a great way to begin moving more.

Talk to you soon.

I have put together a few more pantry stable bag meals for preparedness. I will share them the following week. They can be stored for long periods of time and can also be budget meal ideas. It is more and more expensive to eat healthily when you have to follow a special diet,

My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advise. It is informational only.

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Beginner Weight Training For Menopause!

Updated 3/19/2023

Hello, Sunday readers! I hope your day is going well.

Yesterday, I talked about Menopause in relation to how it shifts fat deposits more to our waistlines, and can impact a lady’s chance to lose weight. I hope you watched the very good video I shared with you and read the tips I gave.

In that video, and I have talked about this before, they mention that cardio is not the healthiest exercise for women in their peri, and menopausal stages. HIIT is definitely a no-no after 50, unless you are already an established athlete. Remember, exercise, and neat are two different topics. Getting in your daily step goals is your neat. Exercise is a period of time you set aside each day, or how many days you decide to exercise, and then do that exercise. Yes, exercise can be walking, which will go towards your step count, but neat is more of an intention to move some every hour. Women in peri, and menopause should be focusing more on weight training, balance, and stretching exercises. Weight training should be done 3 to 5 days a week, with balance and stretching incorporated in. I currently do 2 days a week, I am 52 and have completed the menopause process. I need to pick up my own game, as I am still of the mindset that cardio is the way to lose some of this midsection drift.

There are lots of good reasons to build muscle, and keep bones healthy, especially to avoid Osteoporosis, Osteopenia, muscle wasting, weakness, etc.

Below, you will see 3 videos. The first one explains three exercises with weights that people over 50 should not do. Please watch it, because there are trainers, mostly younger, that say their videos are for over 50 age group, but have these exercises in them. You can also read my blog post on this topic, here. What they are saying about the shoulder exercise, is so true. I had calcific tendonitis last year, in my shoulder joint. When they say you can not lift a spoon to your mouth, they are not kidding. The pain is awful, and it takes a long time to completely heal. Just don’t do that to yourself. Bursitis, rotator cuff injuries, impingement, tendonitis, can all affect that shoulder area. The second video is truly for beginners. It is slow and teaches you the correct form. Please start out with light weights, that is 1 pound, or no weights, until you have the movements down. There is nothing wrong with using your body weight, and no hand weights. The third video, looks easy, but I can tell you it will challenge you. I always watch a new video first, before I do the video. These videos are a great place to start if you have no idea where to start. You can get light dumbbells on Amazon, or pick them up at Walmart. Remember, if you can not do 10 reps with whatever weight you choose to start with, with good form, control, and swinging for momentum, then your weights are too heavy for where you are at.

Let me know in the comments where you are in your menopause journey. Are you lifting weights to lose weight, improve balance, build or retain muscle, or for bone health?

I am going to set an intention for this week to 3 days of weight training, using the videos below.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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Simple Self Care Saturday #1

Welcome to Saturday! The weather is beautiful here in Florida today, and I hope wherever you are it is too. Now that I am no longer working every Saturday, nor doing 12-hour shifts, I am starting a new self-care series of posts. I totally believe in self-care that is simple, easy to do, affordable, easy to understand, and uncomplicated. Self-care is something you intentionally do for yourself. Keeping it simple will aid you with making self-care a habit. What is one type of self-care that I have made into a habit? Getting up and taking at least 250 steps every hour, while awake. Now that it is a habit I feel sad if I can’t do it. For example, this week I started my new job and it was all done on a computer, in an office. I could not get up and move every hour, or I guess I didn’t think to ask to do it, and I felt so lazy by the end of the day. Not all types of self-care will meet everyone’s definition of my time. For example, having my nails and hair done is not for me, but some people find it very relaxing and self-loving.

For this first simple self-care Saturday I would like to talk about Tai Chi. I am not a certified Tai Chi instructor, and I only dabble in it as a form of energy balance. I actually love Tai Chi and I like to incorporate it with my Reiki. I am trained in Reiki. Both are types of energy healing but Tai Chi is also more of a type of exercise or intentional movement. It can improve your balance, muscle strength, all while focusing on your breathing. The movements are very slow, so you focus on the movement and the breathing. The video below is 11 minutes long, but the Tai Chi session is only 5 minutes in length and it is perfect for a Simple Saturday, or any day of the week. I try to do this routine daily, but it is not yet a habit, so I often do it a few times a week. I find it is a great cool-down routine after exercise, or after a stressful day at work to relax. Once you learn her easy routine you won’t need the video, though you may want to play some soft music, or nature sounds once you have it memorized. Try it if you are in pain, anxious, worried, etc. Once you master this first video you may wish to try some more of her Tai Chi routines, or just stick with this simple one.

Leave me a comment if you try this. What is your favorite way to practice self-care? There are so many, but you need at least one, and then do it. If you would like to learn more about my Distance Reiki sessions, click the highlighted link above, or use the contact form below to send me an email for a free consultation.

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